Jamaica News: The newly expanded Court of Appeal building located on King Street in downtown Kingston was officially opened on Wednesday (December 12).
The J$846-million structure, constructed through funding from the European Union (EU), boasts three new courtrooms, 13 judges’ chambers, two lounges, and expanded registry, among other upgraded and modern facilities.
Minister of Justice, Hon. Delroy Chuck, who officially opened the building, said that the modernisation of court infrastructure is a critical plank of the Government’s thrust to provide a more modern and welcoming environment for judges as well as people who interface with the justice system.
“Today marks a significant chapter in the ongoing quest of the Ministry of Justice to upgrade and develop the country’s court facilities, so that they can be beacons of hope and excellence in the delivery of quality and timely justice to our people,” he said.
Mr. Chuck said the multimillion-dollar project provides a more conducive work environment for judges.
“(They) will be able to sit in comfort, to be able to write their judgements in air-conditioned comfort… and we hope that, in time, we will have at least three panels sitting and maybe more as the cases come along, so that the backlog, which is developing in the Court of Appeal, can be reduced significantly,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister Chuck noted that major renovation will take place next year on the offices of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“I have asked for just under half a billion to fix the DPP office, which is to the left of this building, and I feel it will be provided. I want to thank the Prime Minister and Cabinet members, who have been very supportive of the justice sector,” he said.
He noted that the intention is to develop the area into a ‘Justice Square’ with restricted access.
Head of Delegation of the EU to Jamaica, Ambassador Malgorzata Wasilewska, who participated in the opening ceremony, said the expansion of the Court of Appeal “is a milestone achievement that has significant implications for the people of Jamaica in terms of access to justice”.
She noted that the EU’s support “to any sector in Jamaica is never arbitrary. It is determined by the priorities of the Government and is data-driven”.
For his part, Chief Justice, Hon. Bryan Sykes, said the expansion of the Court of Appeal represents a new vision for the Jamaican legal system.
“It is the beginning of the provision of first-class facilities, to be matched by first-class delivery of service. I have been saying it and I will keep on saying that we will have a first-class system in six years, the best in the Caribbean in three years, and one of the best in the world in six years,” he said.
President of the Court of Appeal, Dennis Morrison, said the new facility, complemented by additional judicial and support staff, will enhance the ability of judges to perform and improve the quality of the output of the court.
“For all of us, judges of the court and staff of the court, it is an exciting prospect, and even as we give thanks, we look forward,” he said.
The building, now owned by the Ministry of Justice, formerly housed the Administrator General’s Department, which has been relocated to the former Oceana Hotel building on Ocean Boulevard, downtown Kingston.
Jamaica received €4 million in budgetary support through the EU’s 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Programme during fiscal year 2017/18. This allowed for increased budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Justice to fund the project.
The contract was awarded to Y.P. Seaton & Associates.
Source: JIS News